The Eyes Have It!

Here are a few simple tips for shooting candids. First, set the camera on spot metering to narrow the area of focus. Aim at the subject’s eyes and lock in the focus, then recompose if necessary and fire. The above photo was taken with a zoom at 200mm. The exposure was  1/250 sec at f/13; ISO: 200. Because of the harsh. contrasty sunlight  I dialed down the exposure compensation to -1/3.  No time to experiment with the EV, but further underexposure would have blown out the highlights.

Even stopped down to f/13 the depth of field is still very shallow at 200mm, i.e., the girl on the right is slightly out of focus. Fine for this shot where she serves to frame the subject in the composition.

As you can see from this cropped version the subject’s eye is sharp, albeit in shadow. If you were shooting a portrait under these conditions you’d have to use fill flash or a reflector to lighten the shadow area.

Alas, can’t do that when taking grab shots on the street. Hell, a 200mm lens is intrusive enough.

The screen below shows the image in Adobe Lightroom 3. In the Navigator window on the left you can see the rectangle representing the tight crop area.  In order to crop this tightly and still have the image remain sharp in, say, an 8×10 print, it’s essential to shoot at your camera’s highest resolution. (Besides, there’s no excuse for shooting low resolution JPEGs today since high capacity memory cards are cheap.)

BTW,  I wasn’t the only one shooting the tourists on San Francisco Bay.